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Daintree Rainforest & Great Barrier Reef - Visiting Australia

August 25, 2023
by Jason Bliss
summer-2023_sydney_jason-bliss_cairns-scenic-view-in-daintree (1)

Bucket List Visits While Studying Abroad with CEA CAPA in Australia


Before my summer abroad in Australia, there was one thing I had to see once I arrived: the Great Barrier Reef. One of the seven natural wonders of the world, it was definitely a bucket list item for me.

Luckily, I made this trip a reality during my summer study abroad program in Sydney. We landed in Cairns, and I was instantly blown away by its beauty. Not only was it gorgeous, but it was also very hot. While Sydney was quite pleasant, the temperatures up north were significantly hotter and more humid, similar to the weather in Florida.

Palm trees

Daintree Rainforest

Before exploring the Great Barrier Reef, there was one place we wanted to visit first—the Daintree Rainforest. Initially, I wasn't sure what was so special about this area, but then I discovered that it’s one of oldest rainforests in the world. This vast rainforest offers many different hiking trails to choose from, and we started with the Dubuji Boardwalk, which led to a beach called Myall Beach.

Trail in middle of trees

It was a beautiful walk that led us to a beach surrounded by coconut trees. It was truly incredible. We tried our best to open the coconuts we found on the beach, but it was more challenging than we anticipated.

Coconut on beach

We decided to explore some other trails, and one of them led us to a watering hole. This particular trail was my favorite as it had a stunning opening that offered a view of the distant mountains. Beyond the opening, we reached the watering hole, which was larger than I expected, with many families swimming in it.

view of mountains and palm trees

Scenic view in a rainforest


Great Barrier Reef

The next day, we woke up early to catch a boat that took us to the Great Barrier Reef. The two-hour boat ride was long but incredibly scenic. I was surprised to learn just how vast the reef is—it can even be seen from New Zealand, which puts its size into perspective. As we approached, I saw patches of bluer water and greener spots, which were the coral formations. It was a surreal experience, and I was amazed that such places exist.

view of water from boat

We spent most of the day on the boat, visiting different parts of the Great Barrier Reef and enjoying a buffet lunch onboard. It was an incredible day, and I'm grateful I had the opportunity to experience it. (Another thing to mention is sunscreen, however. This is essential whenever you are outside during a sunny day in Australia, because the sun is very, very hot here.) After getting back from the long boat ride we were tired but ended up getting some souvenir shopping in and ice cream to combat the heat.

Overall, my trip to Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef was an amazing adventure, and I highly recommend visiting to cross it off your bucket list as well!

Jason Bliss is an official blogger for Summer '23, sharing his story in frequent posts on our blog. A Marketing and Supply Chain Management major at University of Pittsburgh, he is studying and interning abroad in Sydney this semester. All views expressed are his own and may or may not reflect the experiences of other students. 

Jason Bliss is the Content Creator - Blogger.
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